When is an island not an island?  When the tide is out far enough...


Glaciers carved Casco Bay's islands and sounds in the last ice age.  Ice covered most of North America more than a mile deep a few thousand years ago. This ice sheet held so much water that sea level was hundreds of feet lower than it is today.  The land is still rebounding, rising after being relieved of the weight of the ice when the great sheets melted.  But the tide of ice melt is rising faster.  One day, not too very far in the future, this sometime island may be a full-time reef.

September 6, 2005 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Bad Day...Redeemed

Had a bad day recently?  Winter blah's, stuck in the snow, cold hands wet feet?  Nobody loves you?

How would you like to work like a dog preparing yourself and your boat to win the world's most difficult sailboat race, race your heart out for 87 days, pulling yourself back from a huge deficit to actually take the lead only to be set back by nagging equipment failure?  But wait, there's more: you keep fighting and amazingly are just about to finish on the podium after sailing 25,000 plus miles when only 50 miles from the finish...your keel falls off!

If you haven't tuned in to the amazing Vendee Globe race, and particularly to the trials and tribulations of Mike Golding, do yourself a favor and check it out.  His is only one of twenty amazing stories (one for each of the competitors) as they sail, alone, non-stop around the world.

Oh, and Mike made it the last 50 miles, nursing his boat along with water ballast and a tiny sail plan.  How was your day again?

February 4, 2005 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

E-mail from the Southern Ocean

----- Original Message -----
From: win
To: Bruce Schwab
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 8:58 PM
Subject: Hello from Maine SP

Hi Bruce,

Just want you to know that we are avidly following your progress and rooting for you here at MSP.  At least twice a day the troops gather round the monitor to peruse the Vendee Globe and Ocean Planet web sites.  Sorry the reef webs let you down. 

Word from the loft floor is, “don’t let that damn motel by, and watch out for falling anchors.”


From: Oceanplanet
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 4:20 PM
To: win
Subject: [work] Re: Hello from Maine SP

Hey Win & Team!
Reef webs no fault of yours.  Yet another one of my crazy ideas was run the spectra reef line right through the webbing without a block with the theory that it was static loading. 
Well if it WAS static it would have worked, but there was some wiggling since it is difficult to get the fore/aft position of the tie-down to the boom perfect.  So some movement under load, over thousands of cycles....and boom!
The mainsail is AWESOME.  I really like it.  The Cuben is really good on chafe, too. Which is nice on this setup with the pusher vangs and all.
No more falling anchors I hope.  Also, no icebergs, which will cost me miles.  But we'll see how the gybe angles work out closer to the Horn and after that there's still a LONG way to go.
B & OP

January 13, 2005 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sailing Picture


I think I need to stick in a good sailing photo every now and then just for the hell of it.

January 5, 2005 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Sometimes, a picture is worth 1000 words.  At least.

January 5, 2005 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I went to the annual meeting of the Portland Yacht Club last night.  Mostly, I was there to help elect the new slate of directors for the next two years, among whom was my daughter.  Aside from that, the big item on the agenda was some changes to the by-laws dealing with ancillary classes of membership.

One of those ancillary classes is 'Senior'.  Senior members have to be over 55, have been members for at least 15 years, and “shall not own, moor, nor have ongoing control of a vessel within the Yacht Club anchorage.” In return, Senior members pay half the regular dues and assessments.  (A savings of $652.50 in 2005.)

This is boredom city, I know, but while listening to the comments and the nitpicking, I was thumbing through my membership directory to see who the members in each of these categories were.    I was surprised to see that the owner of the boat yard next door to the club is a Senior member. He owns, moors and controls not ‘a vessel’ but several vessels within the yacht club anchorage. 

I used to work for this gentleman, and for several years after I left, he was, if not disgruntled, at least not entirely gruntled (apologies to Wodehouse).  Moreover, his son is one of my competitors. For those reasons I don’t plan to make a stink about how he obviously doesn’t qualify for the dues discount he is enjoying. 

I’m sure he would argue that he doesn’t use the club’s waterfront facilities, and that by becoming a ‘Senior’ member he has opened a full membership slot to someone else. And he has done plenty over his long career to help the club and promote boating.

Still, since this is my blog, I’ve got to ask: Is it me, or does this strike anyone else as perhaps just a wee bit, dare I say, cheap?

December 3, 2004 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Last night I put in one of my rare appearances at a GMORA board meeting.  Most of the business was mundane stuff - yearbooks and schedules and nominating committees - but the interesting item on the agenda was IRC

IRC is,of course, the new flavor of handicap rule that is sweeping into American sailing like a powerful squal line.  It is a hybrid between completely objective, often very technical,  measurement rating rules, like IMS, and the slightly simpler Americap, and completely subjective, empirically based handicap systems, like PHRF.  The formula that is used to derive a handicap from a set of measurements under IRC is secret.  The idea is that if no one knows what it is, no one can find loopholes to exploit.  Also, if the formula is secret, no one knows whether the results of the formula have been subjectively tweaked in any case.

This system started as the CHS (Channel Handicap System) in England, and has been quite successful there, spreading to France and other parts of Northern Europe.  Now, several events have adopted or announced adoption of the system for regattas in the US, and there is beginning to be a bandwagon effect.

I have mixed feelings about this, but on the whole I think it is a positive development.  There is certainly a need for an objectively based rating rule at the higher levels of the sport.  The trouble with PHRF and similar completely empirical systems is their inability to distinguish between the performance of the boat and the performance of the sailors who sail it. 

The history of non-secret, objective rating systems has been discouraging.  Smart designers,  backed by deep pockets owners, have brought more resources to bear attacking the rule looking for an advantage than the rule makers have had to defend it.  That, coupled with the natural reluctance to change the rule too quickly and thus make obsolete the investment in recent custom racing boats, have led to type-forming of boats with generally undesirable sailing characteristics.  For instance, the current IMS boats are tippy and slow, but not as tippy and slow as the rule thinks they are.

In Maine, the PHRF system still seems to work fairly well.  I hate to see what handicap racing we have diluted by the introduction of a separate set of classes.  Moreover, IRC is more expensive for the user, especially if one wants an 'endorsed' certificate, where your boat's measurements are checked by a designated measurer, which may discourage some would-be racers.

It does seem that IRC is quickly approaching critical mass. Races in Maine are sure to offer it at least as an option.  Whether it brings better racing or not is something we will have to wait and see...

December 1, 2004 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's official

WSSR Newsletter No 77
The WSSR Council announces the ratification of a new World Record:
RECORD: Outright longest distance run in 24 hours
Yacht: Orange 2
Sailed by: Bruno Peyron
Dates: 22nd and 23rd August 2004.
Distance travelled: 706.2 nm.
Average speed: 29. 42 kts.
John Reed.
Secretary to the WSSR Council

September 10, 2004 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Atlantic Sojourn

On Thursday, i made one of my swings down east  to deliver some sails and check out the Atlantic Main we built last week.  My usual route is 295 to Gardiner them up some back roads through Chelsea, Windsor and Somerville to Route 3 and on to Belfast.  One of the best parts of this trip is cresting the top of the hill above Belfast.  Penobscot Bay lies spread out before you, with Ilseboro ahead and Blue Hill and the Sleeping Giant of Mount Desert Island ahead in the distance.  This shot from not-my-best digital doesn't do it justice, but gives a hint.

I stopped at a couple of boatyards where the summer boats of the short vacation residents are beginning to be put to bed for the winter.  Then on to Blue Hill and the Kollegewidgewock Yacht Club.  There I met up with Skipper Will Taylor for a couple of afternoon races on the Pizzazz


The weather was a perfect example of the best a Maine summer can produce.  Crystal clear with a brisk 10-15 knot southwesterly breeze, with just enough oscillation to make for interesting racing.  Despite a couple of weak starts we managed a 1st and a 4th out of 10 boats, so the new mainsail, although to my eye needing a tweak here and there, was deemed a success. 

Then, on to Ellsworth for some Thai food with Phyllis from Acadia sails and her partner Scott.   I delivered a more interesting sail to Phyliis,  but more on that later.   Finally, a long drive home and a deep sleep.

August 28, 2004 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (1)

Another for the Record Books

The maxi cat Orange just broke the 700 mile barrier (706.2 nautical miles in 24 hours to be exact). Thats a sustained speed of 29.425 knots for 24 hours. I'm not sure I have ever been that fast in a sailboat for even one second, let alone steadily for 24 hours.

Orange is on an attempt at breaking Cheyene/Playstation's record Atlantic crossing from Sandy Hook off N.Y. Harbor to the Lizard on the Southwest coast of Britain (4 days 17 hours 28 minutes, October 2001, average speed 25.78 knots). Before she started I would have predicted that this record would be difficult to beat, but as I write, Orange is on a record pace and needs only to sail an average of 25 knots for the next 48 hours. (Only 25 knots... did I say that?)

[Update 8/25/04: Orange misses the record by 31 minutes and 12 seconds - less than 1/2 of a percent off. Maybe better sails...]

August 23, 2004 in Sailing | Permalink | Comments (1)